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Both Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are competing for the US Army’s Precision Strike Missile requirement, which is destined to replace the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). Able to strike targets – including moving targets – up to 309mi (497km) distant, the embryonic DEEP STRIKE missile will be fired from ground launchers.

At AUSA 2019 in Washington, Raytheon’s Director for Advanced Land Warfare Systems in the Advanced Missile Systems division, James Smith, outlined to MON the company’s status as it gears up for the final stages of the selection process for this important tactical asset.

The company’s proposal for the Precision Strike Missile requirement reportedly answers the service’s call for ‘overmatch,’ and is compatible with the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) family. Raytheon has integrated DEEP STRIKE into the Army’s M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and M270 MLRS launchers. “The only fundamental change is with the software for the fire control system,” Smith explained. The corporate web site noted that, as part of the development, “the company adapted its new launch pod missile container for the Army’s M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS, which will be able to hold two and four missiles respectively, doubling the existing load.”

As Smith spoke to MON during AUSA, the Raytheon candidate missile was completing engineering qualification testing with the Army, with completion of those tests projected to be completed during the week of 21 October. Given other concurrent programme milestone achievement, the company expects the first flight event to be conducted in November at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. “This will include every feature designed into the missile – it’s a guided flight test to use GPS/INS navigation, it will have the warhead and every other feature of the missile tested in that first flight test,” Smith emphasized.

After the first firing, there will be two more test firings in this development phase, most likely in the first quarter of 2020. “And then we pick up the next phase of development – Enhanced Technology Maturation Risk Reduction. There will be more missile firings, probably nine to twelve months down the road, and then we’ll begin to conduct Qualification Testing of the components,” he confirmed.

The DEEP STRIKE missile is now on the fast track for fielding: the original date in the programme of record for fielding was 2027, but under the accelerated programme the new fielding date to the Army is 2023. Raytheon’s industry team for DEEP STRIKE includes Dynetics as well as Northrop Grumman, which is a member of both industry teams competing for this programme.

Marty Kauchak

One of the potential launcher options for the Army’s Precision Strike Missile requirement is the M142 HIMARS system. (Photo: US Army)

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